"Stanford's McNealy recharging for run at wins record"

Ryan Lavner files an excellent GolfChannel.com piece on Stanford's Maverick McNealy taking a brief golf reprieve after winning three of four fall events. That brings him within two individual titles of the school record held by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers, leading to national intrigue for a measely school mark. There is also McNealy's assertion he might not turn pro after college, giving hope to what's left of that weird societal subset viewing the act of choosing to remain an amateur golfer on par with curing cancer and rescuing dogs from burning buildings.

Regarding McNealy's incredible summer and continued great play in the fall, Lavner writes.

How McNealy has been able to summon the goods while teetering on the edge of burnout can be traced back to smart preparation and an extensive journal that documents every practice session, round, tournament and year.

One entry in particular stands out, from his first fall tournament last year.

In the lead for the first time in his career, McNealy realized he had 2 ½ hours to kill before his final-round tee time. He can eat only so many breakfasts, and hit so many balls, so he developed a stretching routine that he has used ever since. For a half hour, in the hotel room or in the locker room, McNealy throws on his headphones and listens to music that slows down his internal tempo.

During that quiet time, he puts the next few hours in perspective: What do I need to do today? What does this round mean to me? Who am I playing for? The answer to the last question, always, is his teammates.

“It feels like everything slows down in my mind,” he said. “Physically, it feels like I’m getting ready for somebody to punch me in the stomach. There’s a tense feeling. And then there’s an intense focus on the target.”

USGA Sounds Positively Thrilled About Mid-Am's Fundraising

Jeff Babineau of Golfweek, who covered Sammy Schmitz's U.S. Mid-Amateur win, considers the fundraising effort by the presumed Masters invitee.

Babineau tried to contact Schmitz but did not get a return call, only a written statement. But it's the cold, crisp statement from the USGA that is more telling:

A spokesperson for the USGA released the following: “Raising funds for reasonable competition expenses is permissible under the Rules of Amateur Status as long as a state and/or regional golf association is involved in the administration of the fund and any donations remain anonymous. The USGA has and will continue to work with all parties involved.”

In this case, any unused money would be passed on to the Minnesota Golf Association. The USGA will pass along names and contact information from the fund’s list of “anonymous” donors to Schmitz, who plans to thank those who have supported him so generously.

That chill has me putting on a sweater as we mutually share this moment in genuine warmth.

U.S. Mid-Am Final Match Highlighted by Schmitz's Par-4 Ace

There's a Chris Keane photo of U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Sammy Schmitz holding up the ball, but so far no video has surfaced of the incredible and historic hole-in-one that all but iced the 2015 final match against Marc Dull. There is, however a Ron Driscoll story on Schmitz's family and friends pulling an all-nighter to be there for the final, so at least they saw the epic 260-yard shot.

Hopefully, the USGA's broadcast partner Fox, who was there taping, will have something on Fox Sports Live later tonight? Nothing yet on the USGA YouTube page either.

Anyway, sounds like it was a compelling match based on the down-the-stretch battle, described here by Golf News Net using match tweets. Schmitz won 3&2 and with it, a Masters berth.

Wrap: Team U.S.A Loses '15 Walker Cup In Record Fashion

Here's the good news: rock bottom for the Walker Cup and Team USA has been hit! And almost no one saw the carnage!

Buried over on ESPN3 was the BBC coverage for American viewers (where Peter Alliss and friends entertained) on the first Sunday of NFL action. So for the five people who could get the WatchESPN app to work, it was a blowout for the ages.

That's because Team USA went to Royal Lytham & St. Anne's and lost in record fashion and also for the fifth time in six visits to the links of the UK. And continuing the trend of other American teams, they predictably stunk up the foursomes play.

Oh, and they lost to a Great Britain & Ireland team that rose to the occasion.

Alex Miceli at Golfweek.com reports that "the result was almost a fait accompli before the 10 singles matches commenced on Sunday afternoon with GB&I holding a commanding 10-6 lead."

That's fair to say. So congrats to the UK's best young amateurs.

Team USA was undone in large part by 21-year-old Jimmy Mullen, who Alistair Tait at Golfweek.com reports joins "Paul Casey and Luke Donald (1999) and Andrew Oldcorn (1983) as the only players to record four wins out of four in Walker Cup history."

The R&A's official site reports on the 16½-9½ win at the 45th Walker Cup and includes this highlight video.

Now, the bad news for Team USA.

After a thrilling win in 2013 at the National Golf Links, the big win by GB&I leaves the American team and the ultra-secretive USGA-designed selection process in shambles. After all, as Ryan Lavner noted, the USA only leads 6-5 in the series since 1995 despite having about a 250,000,000 million popularion advantage.

While Great Britain & Ireland is getting better and might have won this match even more handily had they included Sam Horsfield, Team USA was in charity mode again this year, adding two mid-am's in a career celebration that, while admirable, makes you wonder if an effort is being made in Far Hills to win the event or just reaffirm to lifelong amateurs that they too, are people worthy of inclusion even if the numbers say otherwise

Just think, Florida freshman Horsfield passed on the cup for personal reasons and debuted at the Carpet Capital Collegiate with a T4. (Kevin Casey reports.) Had Horsfield played, GB&I might have won by more. It never hurts to face Team USA mid-ams who went 1-5 and have gone 3-8 since the USGA mandated their team include two players over the age of 25.

While the news was bad at Lytham, there is this: the Walker Cup is an exhibition and Team USA appeared to represent their country well. That's all that ultimately matters to most Americans, but not all. Plus, it's not Team USA's fault that the USGA has a super-secretive selection process creating bad karma with the mandatory two mid-am picks.

And it's not the fault of players that the USGA is beholden to a corporate arrangement with Ralph Lauren that has the players wearing four uniforms in two days of competition, making them look like fools in a blowout loss by auditioning Ralph's latest and greatest at an amateur golf competition.

Either that, or the USGA has decided to spend their Fox money on uniforms and Ralph is just going along with the excess. Regardless, the emphasis on style over substance did not go unnoticed.

Given what we've seen of the current USGA mindset of valuing loyalty and perceived tradition over the most basic common sense, changes to the team selection process will be unlikely. They should be striving to improve Team USA's chances when the matches are next played September 9 and 10, 2017 at The Los Angeles Country Club, but that would require Chairwoman Diana Murphy and friends to take a hard look at their own committee's decisions prior to this Cup.

Does any of this matter? Only in a first world sense.

In the world of modern sports, the Walker Cup is about to get more important because it's about to be televised, and we know you aren't happening in this world unless you are on TV.

With Fox televising in 2017 and Golf Channel moving in with the 2019 matches, this historic amateur competition is about to see a new spotlight. Which is why it's time for the USGA to end its secret selection process that fueled rumors of old boys network activities (fueling this year's mid-am selections even though they were the last two U.S. Mid-Amateur Champions). The lousy karma and bad blood from people who should be the USGA's biggest supporters over the mandatory mid-am selections is quietly undermining America's effort.

Most of all, the need to publish a Walker Cup points list detailing who is earning their way on to the team is vital for two reasons.

There's the USGA's credibility that is on the line, if they even care. Letting players earn their way on without having to pass some imaginary character test from an anonymous committee of people who have never played the game at a high level, is essential.

And a points list makes common marketing sense heading into the 2017 matches. You know, making people aware that one of golf's most historic and thrilling competitions is actually taking place.

Besides, if you don't do anything, there will be calls for a task force. Don't tempt us!

Same Length Irons: Will DeChambeau Start A Trend?

Here's a smart and timely filing from Mike Stachura at GolfDigest.com tackling the question many have in the wake of Bryson DeChambeau's powerful US Amateur win, watched by several thousand: what about the same-length shaft idea for my game?

Stachura does a nice job explaining the backstory of DeChambeau's thinking behind his club set, his Edel Golf created clubs and the history of such ideas. And boy did this bring back a deeply buried memory that made me feel very old:

In the late 1980s, Tommy Armour Golf pushed a set of irons called E.Q.L., based on the idea of a single swing. These clubs were built to 6-iron length. That set never gained real traction, perhaps in part because the company’s 845 irons were exceedingly more popular. While there is something of a technology lull in the iron market today, Dechambeau’s method is at least getting some buzz.

But before you head out and cut all your iron shafts to 7-iron length, you better recognize that you’re going to need more than one adjustment to make it work. And it might be an adjustment that standard golf clubs can’t possibly make.

“We are all used to swinging a golf club that’s basically D0 to D4,” Choung says. “So if we just arbitrarily cut these things down and didn’t have the ability to adjust the weights on it, you could end up with a 3-iron that’s super stiff with a swingweight of C3.”

Artist & Scientist: DeChambeau Looks To Make US Am History

Derek Bard faces Bryson DeChambeau in Sunday's U.S. Amateur final at Olympia Fields, but all eyes will be on the SMU senior DeChambeau.

Not only are all of his club shafts the same length, but throw in the Hogan cap, the intensity, the painful slowness and the electric game, and you have the makings of a future star.

Jeff Babineau at Golfweek.com writes:

Watching DeChambeau this week has been like seeing the electronic rabbit make its way around the inside rail at the greyhound track. He stays tantalizingly close and at times appears catchable, then shows a different gear than the rest and pulls away.

Ryan Lavner wrote before Saturday's play about Bryson's approach, noting the weird mix of artistry and science to DeChambeau's game.

No, he doesn’t intimidate with big drives, flashy iron play or sublime putting. But his methodical approach to the game and hole-to-hole consistency can exasperate opponents and force them into mistakes.

Lavner also notes that DeChambeau has a chance to join Nicklaus, Woods, Mickelson and Moore as the only winners of the NCAA individual title and the U.S. Amateur in the same year.

DeChambeau, a 21-year-old senior at SMU, could join Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore as the only players to win the NCAA Championship and U.S. Amateur in the same year.

Dave Shedloski sets up the final with this "tale of the tape" of the finalists. Jessica Marksbury interviews them after their Saturday wins (and likely Masters berths).

And if you were still unsure about Bryson being a bit different, John Strege found this tweet confirming this is one different young man. He signs his name backwards, if he feels like it.

Here is Tracy Wilcox's Golfweek.com photo gallery from Saturday. It wins 7&6 over the USGA's gallery that has way too many photos of rules officials, lameduck presidents and other non-competitors.

Final day coverage is on Fox from 3-6 ET. Not only should the golf be fun, but Greg Norman's struggle to act interested in golfers other than himself will surely prove exciting!

Time To Lose The Secret Walker Cup Selection Process

Ryan Lavner at GolfChannel.com has been a longtime watcher of the Walker Cup selection process and points out that while an unenviable task, is the only "Cup" with a points list kept private.

Lavner writes:

Nitpicking résumés of elite players who don’t compete against each other every week is an unenviable task, which makes it even more bizarre that the USGA doesn’t make its decisions more transparent. 

The Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Solheim Cup all have points lists. The USGA says there is an internal system that spits out numbers and weighs such factors as strength of schedule, but it chooses not to make that information public. 

That’s a mistake.

Making that list public would eliminate two things: (1) the unnecessary stress for players who are flying around the country in a desperate attempt to impress a secretive committee, and (2) most of the second-guessing that comes after an important decision that defines their amateur careers.

When asked how transparent the committee has been over the past few months, former Virginia standout Denny McCarthy – the favorite to land one of the final spots – said: “I literally have no idea. I can’t control what they do. The only thing I can control is the golf I play and my emotions. Hopefully I can play some really solid golf this week and leave no doubt in their mind that I should be a part of this team.”